Weeds are enough to give any passionate gardener and lawn owner sleepless nights. I mean, after all the effort you put into maintaining our lawn, it is unfair for it to be invaded and destroyed by weeds. And what makes it more annoying is the weeds look just like the grass. How do you identify them? What’s pivotal is how do you get rid of them. Read on to learn a few tips I mastered over the years to identify and get rid of these weeds.
There are plenty of weed species around. While the list is endless, there are several fairly common ones. This article will help you both know and destroy a couple of common weeds that look like grass. I will highlight both chemical and non-chemical solutions. Choose what works for you.
Common Weeds That Look Like Grass
- Wild Garlic & Wild Onion
- Green Foxtail
Crabgrass or Finger grass is a relatively common warm-season weed that is notorious for its invasive properties. When left untamed, it obstructs and crowds out any lawn in its way. Since Crabgrass is seasonal, it only thrives in summer months then dies off in autumn and winter. While it may be a relief when this weed dies off its own, it leaves ugly bare patches behind. Also, it produces many seeds that will germinate the following year.
Crabgrass weeds that look like grass, may you find in your lawn, but its distinctly thicker, and much coarser textured blades enable you to identify it. It grows in small, lateral patches usually disposed of throughout your lawn. It is likely to be denser in areas of your lawn that have thin soil. This includes the sidewalk, edges of your driveway, and the other regions subjected to plenty of traffic.
As you know prevention is better than cure, I will start byways of preventing Crabgrass from growing in the first place.
- Buy a pre-emergent herbicide
Buy a pre-emergent herbicide and spread it on your lawn in early spring. Cornmeal gluten is an example of an effective pre-emergent herbicide you can use. Crabgrass usually begins to emerge in late spring, so this timely application will stop it from growing. If possible, find a fertilizer that is combined with the herbicide to apply both at the same time.
- Put in more effort
Put in more effort to improve your lawn to inhibit the growth of Crabgrass. Luckily enough, it only attacks weak malnourished lawns. So, once your grass forms a healthy, thick, and dense canopy, this weed will be a past thing. Things like regular overseeding, watering and fertilizer applications will help ensure your lawn has a dense root system. This will leave no space for Crabgrass to take root.
- Mow your lawn
Mow your lawn regularly to a height not less than 3 inches or 7.6cm. The grass will keep the soil cool. This is an effective solution since Crabgrass cannot germinate in soil temperatures below 10°C.
If, however, you already have crabgrass in your lawn, do not despair. There are several solutions for you too!
- Pull the weeds out.
You can simply pull the weeds out. This is a temporary solution. Crabgrass has an intense root system, so it will likely emerge again soon after pulling it out.
- Direct herbicide
A direct herbicide is a quick, direct, and more permanent solution to fully emerged Crabgrass. You can get glyphosate or round up and use gloves to spread it onto the leaves. Make sure you do not let it go onto your healthy lawn since it will be affected. The glyphosate will be transported to the roots killing them and the entire plant.
Nutsedge is also commonly known as Nutgrass. This is a very invasive and aggressive weed that is a cause of concern for many. Its rapid replication and resistance to most weed killers make it a real nuisance. It can thrive throughout the year. Nustenge can spread through airborne seeds and underground rhizomes and tubers.
Nutsedge is a tall grass that has light-colored yellow, green leaves. It also has deep roots, which can go down to 4 feet, making it the ability to survive severe dry spells. When left to grow at will, it produces spikey flower clusters too. Usually, Nutgrass begins in the moist and water clogged areas of your lawn then spreads quickly.
This is one weed that cannot be combated by pulling. That is because of its deep root system that is likely to stay and re-shoot after pulling.
- Lawn maintenance
The ideal option to fight this weed is to keep your lawn dense and well maintained. Never overwater your lawn and do what you can to improve drainage in poorly drained parts of our lawn.
Do not mow below the recommended mowing height for our lawn. Cutting your grass too short may stress it, thus encouraging the growth of Nutsedge.
Purchase pesticides that can be applied to the base of the weed to kill it. Unfortunately, it will kill any turf that comes in contact with it so you may have to reseed after. To get the best results, treat nutgrass in late spring or early summer. At this time, the grass will have hardly has any time to grow and deepen its roots.
3. Wild Garlic and Onion
These are fragrant weeds that are very similar to weeds that look like grass, aside from the fact that they will probably outgrow your grass. The strong smell of these weeds becomes more apparent after a mowing session. While these weeds are annoying when then they grow in the lawn, they are a blessing in disguise to garlic lovers. They can also be used to add flavor to many great dishes. But whether or not you are a garlic fan, you do not want clumps of this tall grass in your lawn.
On the upside, these weeds are seasonal, only growing in early spring and late autumn. They thrive through winter and spring then reach dormancy in summer. They, however, leave underground bulbs that emerge in their following growing season. When left untreated, these bulbs can remain underground for several years.
These are tall weeds that grow in bunches. Both wild garlic and wild onion have strong-smelling, thin, green and waxy leaves. It is just the shape of the leaves that differentiates the two. Wild garlic has round hollow leaves while wild onion has flat, solid leaves.
Unlike Crabgrass, wild garlic and onion have no pre-emergence herbicide, you can apply. There are, nonetheless, many fixes you could use.
If you love garlic and onion flavor in your dishes, simply uproot and transplant these weeds to your herb garden. They are likely to be more purposeful and fit in better there. It is easier to pull them out when the soil is moist, so it is wise to water first before attempting this exercise. For a more permanent solution, dig them out using a very thin trowel. This will uproot all the bulbs beneath the surface and stop quick re-emergence.
To eliminate them, simply purchase a herbicide and apply it as instructed on the packaging. Even though there are plenty of types of herbicides in the market, not all of them kill garlic and onion weeds. Therefore be sure to check before you buy. Examples of herbicides that work include Imazaquin and Ferti-Lome Wee-Out Lawn weed killer. After being treated with a herbicide, these weeds cease to be edible.
Regular mowing may also help with Wild onion and garlic. It may not be a solution that kills the weeds, but it weakens the plants preventing them from setting seed.
4. Green Foxtail
When looking at the mature heads of this grass at bloom, one cannot help but think of foxtails’ tip. With the growth ability of up to 100cm, this grass is not just tall, and it is also very invasive. To top it all, it is also tough to control since all its seeds need to spread is a light wind. It has no trouble germinating at any time of the year as long as the conditions support its growth. It is likely only to survive not more than eight weeks.
The green foxtail plant is a light green weed that looks very much like grass. It also has stalks with tips that are fluffy and carry seeds. The leaves themselves hardly have any hairs with exception to the margin close to the mouth. This weed is likely more likely to germinate in moist soil with 15°C – 35°C.
Like most weeds, a great canopy of a healthy lawn is all it takes to crowd it out and prevent any growth.
- Purchase a herbicide, and be sure to apply it only to the weeds.
The key to controlling weeds that look like grass lies mostly in keeping your lawn healthy and well maintained. A deep-rooted, strong lawn that forms a green canopy and is mowed to its right length is an unlikely target for any weeds. However, if you do face problems with weeds, deal with them as soon as possible. Consider your grass type when deciding on a solution. Remember, while chemical solutions can rid you of any weeds, they may also damage your turf!